Chesterfield have memories that will last a lifetime as they do town proud against Chelsea in FA Cup

The Spireites came away from Stamford Bridge with memories that will last a lifetime as they did the town proud against Chelsea.

Sunday, 9th January 2022, 12:07 pm

James Rowe’s men put in a display full of heart and character as they exited the FA Cup at the third round stage with their heads held high.

Chelsea’s world class players showed great professionalism but those wearing red put in an heroic effort.

Let’s take a look at back at what was a memorable day for many reasons:

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SPECIAL DAY

It was a truly remarkable experience and one we may never get again or for at least a very long time. Hopefully we will not have to wait another 70-odd years!

To have the opportunity to play against some of the best players in the world, against one of the top managers in the world, in a famous stadium, is exactly what the FA Cup is all about and the day was everything and more.

From start to finish it was magical and those there could not wipe the smiles off their faces.

6,000 Chesterfield fans at Stamford Bridge had a day to remember.

The day was never about the result but a four-goal margin is very respectable. Chelsea beat Juventus by the same scoreline this season. They hammered a team in their own league, Norwich City, 7-0 in October.

It was a special occasion and one which has put Chesterfield back on the map.

It will be a day that will live long in the memory for every Spireite.

THE GOAL

Let’s skip straight to the 80th minute when Chesterfield scored against the European champions.

That one moment, that one goal, was all everyone wanted and it happened.

In doing so, Akwasi Asante became the first non-league player to score at Stamford Bridge in 107 years.

It was a late Christmas present for the 6,000 Spireites in the Shed End and boy did they enjoy it. They celebrated like it was the last-minute winner or an equaliser deep into stoppage time. The noise was crackling and deafening. Even some of Chelsea’s fans started applauding.

The BBC commentator summed it up when he bellowed: “5,800 Chesterfield fans have the moment they have been waiting for – a goal to celebrate at the home of the European champions. They will leave west London with a smile on their face and a beautiful moment to remember.”

It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.

THE FANS

Wow. They never stopped singing.

People around us could not believe the Spireites had sold-out their allocation and commented on the noise they were making. Some even said they are the best to have visited Stamford Bridge.

The tongue-in-cheek chants of ‘Johnstone’s, Paint Trophy, you’ll never win that’ and ‘Romelu Lukaku, he’s Inter Milan’ brought laughter from those there.

To see all the fans at the Technique in the morning with their scarves and flags was a fantastic sight. It had the feel of a cup final and in a way it was. But there was no pressure and it was a party atmosphere all day.

The goal was a reward for their loyalty over the last few miserable years. But the club has turned a corner now and hopefully there will be more special occasions to come.

HOW THE OTHER HALF LIVE

Chelsea’s potential starting line-up had been a big talking point all week. Would they play the kids? Could we see a few stars? Would it be a mix?

It is fair to say that nobody was expecting Thomas Tuchel to go THAT strong.

Chelsea’s XI totalled almost £290m in transfer fees. Chesterfield’s was £265,000.

Many of those selected for the hosts are regular starters and there was only one teenager in Lewis Hall, who looks like he has a bright future. He became Chelsea’s youngest ever player to start an FA Cup game at 17 years and 122 days.

Tuchel’s team selection added to the experience and showed how much he respected Chesterfield.

FRIGHTENING

Given Chelsea’s star-studded team, it was no real surprise that they blew the Spireites away in the opening 20 minutes, scoring three times.

The press box at Stamford Bridge is quite low down, just behind the dugouts, and we got to see at close-up just how utterly brilliant these big names are.

It was frightening how quickly they moved the ball to get up the pitch at blistering speed.

You could see exactly why Mateo Kovacic, capped 75 times by Croatia, has won the Champions League four times and played for Real Madrid and Inter Milan.

The pace and trickery of Hudson-Odoi was breathtaking. Blink and you’d miss it. Him and Werner gave Jeff King and Fraser Kerr a torrid time in the first-half.

Not that it matters too much but I think Town will be a bit disappointed with some of the goals they conceded in the opening 45. At least a couple of them were soft and came about from mistakes but there is no point dwelling.

Credit to them for regrouping at half-time and holding the European champions to a draw in the second-half.

They came out fighting, didn’t let their heads drop and never stopped running. They can be proud of their efforts.

TEAMS:

Chesterfield (3-4-2-1): Loach; Kerr, Gunning (Grimes, 59), Croll; King (Miller, 46), Weston, Oyeleke (Maguire, 71), Whittle; Khan (Mandeville, 46), Kellermann (Asante, 65); Tshimanga. Unused subs: Minter, McCourt, Tyson, Payne.

Chelsea (3-4-1-2): Bettinell; Christensen (Vale, 59), Sarr, Hall; Hudson-Odoi (Barkley, 66), Saul, Kovacic (Loftus-Cheek, 46), Ziyech; Pulisic (Baker, 59); Lukaku (Havertz), Werner. Unused subs: Arrizabalaga, Jorginho, Baker, Simons, Webster.